SAINT BONAVENTURE (c.1221-1274), bishop and Doctor of the Church – Patron saint of those who suffer from intestinal disorders, Bagnorea, Italy and Saint Bonaventure University in New York
Today, the universal Church honors Saint Bonaventure, known for his leadership of the Franciscans and his great intellectual contributions to theology and philosophy.
Bonaventure was born about the year 1221 in Bagnorea, a town in central Italy. It is said that, during his youth, he was cured of a dangerous illness through the intercession of Saint Francis of Assisi. He went on to join the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor in 1238.
After making his vows, he was sent to complete his studies in Paris, where he became good friends with Thomas Aquinas, with whom he received his Doctorate of Theology.
In 1257, Bonaventure was elected Minister General of the Friars Minor. In this position, which he filled for 17 years, he brought peace and order to the religious community. His impact was so great that, today, he is sometimes referred to as the “second founder” of the Franciscans.
Bonaventure worked to preserve a spirit of unity, calming the threat of internal dissension that arose over differences in interpreting the message of Saint Francis of Assisi. Central to this work was his understanding that the study of philosophy and theology did not oppose the call to poverty that was so central to Franciscan spirituality.
Wishing to present an authentic image of the life and teachings of their founder, Bonaventure zealously collected documents about Saint Francis and heard testimonies from those who had actually known him. From this information, he compiled a biography of the saint that was adopted as Saint Francis’ official biography by the General Chapter of the Friars Minor in 1263.
In the year 1273, Bonaventure was appointed by Blessed Pope Gregory X as cardinal and bishop of Albano, Italy. The Pope also asked him to help prepare the Second General Council of Lyons, which was convened in 1274, an ecclesial event aimed at re-establishing unity between the Latin and Greek Churches.
Even though Cardinal Bonaventure worked to prepare the Council and spoke to the Council’s membership, he never saw its completion. He died on July 15, 1274, while the Council was still in session. He was canonized a saint in 1482 by Pope Sixtus IV.
In his General Audience on March 3, 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke about the life of Saint Bonaventure. He called to mind the great works of literature, art, philosophy and theology that were inspired by the Christian faith during the time period in which the saint lived.
The pope stated, “Among the great Christian figures who contributed to the composition of this harmony between faith and culture, Bonaventure stands out – a man of action and contemplation, of profound piety and prudent government.”
We commemorate the feastday of Saint Bonaventure on July 15.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org, and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Bonaventure)
“All-powerful Father, may we who celebrate the feast of Saint Bonaventure always benefit from his wisdom and follow the example of his love.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”